On Thursday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy spoke to Tennessee Star Senior Reporter Laura Baigert on the newsmakers line.
During the second hour, Baigert reported on what she saw at the recent protests on Nashville’s popular Lower Broadway where many restaurant workers, owners and musicians gathered to make their voice heard against the shutdown.
Leahy: We are joined now by our Tennessee Star Senior Capitol Hill Reporter Laura Baigert. Good morning Laura.
Baigert: Good morning Michael. Great to talk with you. This is the only way I can get you.
Baigert: You are the busiest man in town.
Leahy: So by the way, if all goes well we will move to phase two of studio Freedom Week next week if we get the sign-offs. And that means that you will be welcome back live in the studio. I know you love getting up so early in the morning.
Baigert: Yes. Yes. I was glad to hear that you’re moving to phase two since Nashville hasn’t even gotten off the square to move to phase one yet.
Leahy: We are trying to find out what Mayor Cooper is really relying on scientifically. It’s really hard to get all that data. They’ll talk about it in press conferences and then they’ll hide it. You yesterday, by the way, was our on the scene reporter at this protest gathering of business owners, employees, and musicians outside Metro Nashville city hall to protest mayor John Cooper’s ongoing safer at home, shut businesses down the order. Tell us about that event.
Baigert: It was interesting because it seemed to come up spontaneously without a lot of planning with it. From that perspective, they had a really good turnout. It was obvious that these are just working people who had their gear on with the logos from the various venues down there. Tootsies, Honkey Tonk Central, Kid Rock’s location.
And these were just working people down there. And the sense from everybody there was that they know that they’re ready to open. We all get it now. We understand what the risks are and they need to reopen. And they need to start moving in.
And virtually everyone had masks on showing that they are going to be respectful of the orders and all of that. But you need to let them get open. And it did feel a little bit like they didn’t know how to send their message. Steve Glover is a Council Member at Large.
Leahy: Metro Council member at large who is very much opposed to Mayor Cooper’s 32% property tax increase.
Baigert: Right. He went down there. They had a council meeting Tuesday night that went to after midnight. But he went down there to support those folks. He ended up talking about the property tax increase. And I got a great idea for Mayor Cooper.
Since these businesses can’t open and be able to be paying that property tax increase he ought to pro-rate their property tax payments for the amount of time Mayor Cooper’s got them shut down. Their property is not worth anything if it doesn’t generate revenue.
Leahy: Yes. Interesting. Some great photos by the way. This is our lead story at the Tennessee Star. TennesseeStar.com. And the headline by Laura Baigert is Lower Broadway Business Owners, Employees and Musicians Protest Nashville Mayor’s Safer at Home Order. There’s another picture there. a representative from Honkey Tonk Central getting grilled by a member of the media for going against Mayor John Cooper by suggesting that downtown businesses could reopen safely.
Now he’s wearing a mask being interviewed. I don’t know if all of the media people were wearing masks. My sense is except for The Tennessee Star all the other media outlets that were there covering this were more sort of on the same side of Mayor Cooper. Was that…
Baigert: Definitely one. But she had the microphone and was not wearing a mask and had the microphone in this gentleman’s face.
Leahy: Not wearing a mask. (Laughs)
Baigert: Right. He was saying basically we are ready to open and we can do it safely and we have good security crews. And she was pretty aggressive at him and saying so you think that Mayor Cooper and why would you say his reasoning is for not presenting information the way you think it should be and that you would go against him? What makes you know more than him?
She was very aggressive with him. But he handled it fairly well by coming back and saying we are ready to handle this. I was really impressed by how many people did have masks on and abiding by the current order. And you know there’s another kind of protest going on that’s not so obvious. We were now on Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo just over the Davidson County border, and all of the Mexican restaurants had packed parking lots with people. Just packed with people.
Leahy: So just over the border?
Baigert: Just over the border. Now, what I didn’t do and I wish I had now was looked at how many Davidson County plates there were. So while Mayor Cooper thinks that he can keep them under control in Davidson County and we’ve talked about this before about how Brentwood is half in Davidson and half is in Williamson County.
And this is happening in other areas where even some of these district attorneys are not going to be prosecuting people because one county things are open and in another, it’s not. Just up the road. It really makes no sense and people are seeing through it. Not only with the coverage that The Tennessee Star has with the data but there is so much social media that’s out there that just keeps getting taken down. Why do YouTube and Facebook have to censor all of this stuff?
Leahy: Well because you are going against the “elite” who want to tell you what to do. It’s interesting to me and we’ve had Carey Bringle the owner of Peg Leg Porker the great BBQ joint here in town. He made the same point you are making Laura.
So you can go literally just a couple of miles south of Davidson County and go to a restaurant that’s open and then come back. And really what you’re doing there you could argue is that you are putting money into Williamson County business owners and away from Davidson County owners. You are punishing them. higher rate of COVID-19, you are spreading it from Davidson County to Williamson County with that action. Thank you, Mayor Cooper.
Baigert: At the end of the day and this is what all of us have been saying, it doesn’t add up. Informally we’ve done surveys with all of our family members. We’re not from here so our family is in different parts of the country and friends. We’ve asked everybody we know, do you know anybody that has it? Do you know anybody who knows anybody that has it? And the answer has been no across the board.
Baigert: And while the media reports these cases which you’ve been doing repeatedly to try and put this in perspective with how many people are negative? How many people don’t have it all? How many people are asymptomatic? We still don’t’ have a lot of the data. and the real-life application is showing us that all of this is not warranted. Does anybody wonder why it’s only Democratic cities
Leahy: Oh yeah. Democrat cities. What was interesting, you know who’s advising? The Tennessee Immigration Refugee Rights Coalition. (Baigert chuckles) Because they are big science experts.
Baigert: Right. Right.
Leahy: Thanks for your outstanding reporting. very detailed.
Baigert: Thank you. Look to see more of these protests. I think they are going to be out there more and more. #FreeTN is going to be out there next week.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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